Who doesn’t love a mid winter Valentines minibreak? A group of us from OutNewsGlobal and Oban Lesbian Weekend got together to zip over to Shannon in Ireland for a valentine’s trip to The Outing Festival.
Some of us flew from Edinburgh, some from London and some drove across to meet other LGBTQ people who had come from all over Ireland. RyanAir had some great deals with flights from £13.99 straight to Shannon, or for those who wanted to arrive a little early and explore Ireland, a few of us got a flight to Dublin, enjoyed a bit of craic in an Irish bar or two, before hopping on the bus down to Shannon, via Limerick.
For most of our group, the party started when we reached the hotel, the Inn at Dromoland. We were met by a warm Irish welcome from our host, Eddie McGuinness and his fantastic crew.
The Outing’s central theme is match-making. Never mind the classic Cilla Black, we had Blind Date with the queens of Match Making, Eddie McGuinness and Paul Ryder. The nightly Blind Date show had to be the highlight of our holiday. One of our crew, Helen from Glasgow was picked to be Friday night’s blind date with the lovely Geraldine from Sligo. Helen kept tight lipped about whether they had hit it off but every time I saw Helen, she raved about how much she enjoyed her 5 minutes of fame during Blind Date!
Butch Cassidy and guests kicked off their comedy show and had us all in stitches before dinner. Think of a male Victoria Wood singing and making us laugh with their piano. Dining is a big part of The Outing. As everything is based at the Inn in Dromoland, we made new friends as some nursed their hangovers over breakfast and we enjoyed a variety of dishes over dinner.
Irish born, Londoner Mark T Cox headlined Friday night followed by some Eurovision.
Eurovision is a massive thing is Ireland and The Outing had not just one but two Eurovision winners. Friday night, we partied to the songs of Linda Martin, who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1992 when she represented Ireland with the song, “Why Me”. Saturday night Niamh Kavanagh, who took Ireland to victory a year later, with the song, “In Your Eyes”, entertained us before DJ Ruth had us partying until the small hours.
It wasn’t all partying and drinking (although, we loved that part!), one of my favourite bits was socialising in hot tub at the hotel’s spa. The Outing also had daily walks to the castle, crafts and optional activities ranging from spa treatments to horse riding.
One of the things we enjoyed about The Outing festival was that it had a good range of all genders, so unlike some mixed events which can be very male dominated, we were just as likely to sit down at the bar with another lady, guy or someone on the trans spectrum.
By Sunday night, many of our new Irish friends had gone home but for us this was a lovely evening, where we could reminisce about the weekend’s events, relax over dinner and be entertained by drag queen, Regina George.
All in all, we had a fantastic weekend away and made some amazing new Irish friends. Time for plan for The Outing, 2024!
For more information about The Outing 2024, click here!